by Pseud O'Nym
Just to be absolutely clear before I start, this is about MY personal experience of depression, of how it makes ME feel and should not be misconstrued as advocating any course of action by any other person. Sorry about that, but there are some vulnerable people surfing the interweb and one has no idea who might stumble across this when they’re at an especially depressed state. If that is you, then I feel for you, but shut down your computer now, please.
Winston Churchill famously battled with depression, calling it ‘The Black Dog’ and if Churchill called it that, then mine is the dogs home at Battersea, with the dogs lulling me into a false sense of (in)security by being quiet for a long periods, then suddenly barking all at once, in a seemingly endless cacophony. I can’t recall not being depressed, to some extent, between waking from the coma and right now, this second as I type this. When I say ‘to some extent’ I mean exactly that. Last weekend I was in Dorset, and a trip to the beach was mooted. Well ‘beach’ is technically right, insofar as it was the strip of land between the sea and the cliff. And with the cliff face towering way above you, one is awe struck as one takes in the many layers of fossilized remains, built up and compacted over millions and millions of years. Giving majestic and irrefutable proof that evolution is not a theory but fact and anyone who suggests otherwise is mistaking their anus for their mouth.
The point is that I was asked about my depression and how bad it was. I turned and asked the questioner to look at the cliff face, with its clearly delineated layers of strata, some thick, some thin, and to imagine that to be a measure of depression. The closer to the top one was, the less depressed one was. I replied that mine was considerably below the middle, but for quite a while after waking from the coma, it had been near the bottom. Actually, when I woke up after the coma I wished, as I do now as I write this – and quite possibly until my dying day – that I hadn’t bothered waking up from the coma. That in a nutshell is the root cause of my depression and why, most times I downplay the subject– as talking about my depression depresses me – and change the subject as soon as I can.
I have – for the most part at least – what I call a ‘functional level of depression’ inasmuch as it allows me to get out of bed each day, not a ‘debilitating level of depression’ where you just can’t be bothered with anything, anymore. That happens to me, sometimes. I liken it to a boa constrictor, because in the same way a boa constrictor wraps itself around its unsuspecting prey until too late it realises, and the life is, quite literally, squeezed out of it.
So yes, I have thought about suicide. When I was in hospital, the long nights were often filled with thinking of schemes as to how best to achieve the desired outcome, whilst enduring the minimum of pain. You’ll be glad to know that eventually I thought of a plan, which factored in all my limitations, would cause the least immediate inconvenience to those I knew and above all, was foolproof. After all, any problem, when one breaks it down into smaller problems, becomes infinitely more achievable. Same with suicide. If one focuses with cool calculating logic on the matter at hand and how best to reach your final destination, it becomes easier.
Because what could possibly be worse for your self esteem than to wake up after a failed suicide attempt, most probably in an even worse physical condition than before. This is MY own personal view. And please, since I’ve got enough problems without adding the tabloids and their own brand of right-wing fulminating furore to the list, don’t misread this as somehow being an encouragement for anyone to do anything. It isn’t. Isn’t free speech great? Now you have to second-guess what someone you’ve never met might do. Seriously? Are you having a Turkish?
Once I’d thought of a viable plan it became like a macabre credible deterrent. Much in the same way the U.S might proclaim to South Korea or some such state, do this and let allow us to verify you are doing this to our satisfaction, or this will happen. Once that was in place, I could put it in the farthest recesses of my mind, so as not to be something I dwell upon. And yes, I’ve tried anti-depressants, which in my case, were as much use as an inflatable anchor.
A few weeks ago though, I was mulling over my plan, as I do from time to time to check there are no weak spots in it, when I was roused from my morbid musings by someone who’ll feature in my writing from time to time. Ladles and jellyspoons, allow to me introduce you to, cue fanfare, Little Miss Sunshine or L.M.S, as she’ll be referred to. She woke me up, handed me a satsuma and said, “I’ll help you share it”, all earnest helpfulness, as if she imagined that she had discovered a solution to some hitherto intractable dilemma. (It should be pointed that it was my satsuma she handed me). I mean come on, that is utterly charming, self-serving genius of the very highest order. (As someone who could turn convincing people it was only out of altruistic concern for their well-being to follow my suggestion and any benefit to me would be a wholly unforeseen fortuitous accident into an art form, I’m well able to judge.) And she’s only three! I know I should be shocked, appalled and other things that adults are meant to think, but actually, I was impressed. I asked her to show me her little finger once. I was amazed to find no scars, where she wraps me around it. Her irrepressible enthusiasm coupled with her ceaseless playfulness does me no end of good.
Really, how can you not be bewitched when she has a piece of mango in each hand, looks at each of them intently to gauge their size and thrusts the hand holding the smaller piece at you? (Which says a lot about me that I find it endearing. Mind you, I did warn you, in very the first line of my first blog entry, remember?)
Next time will, you’ll be pleased to learn, not be as maudlin, but rather a homage to the erstwhile Caroline Lucas M.P.